An Indian high school student Aryan Jain has won the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Artemis Next-Gen STEM - Moon to Mars App Development Challenge this year.
Aryan, a student of Suncity School, Gurugram, had teamed up with Anika Patel, Andy Wang, Franklin Ho, Jennifer Xiong, Justin Ji, and Vedika Kothari, representing 5 different global schools led by Whitney High School, USA, for the challenge. They all are the winners of NASA's app development challenge.
The application has been appreciated by NASA for its pathfinding capability, terrain texture, and 3-D scene implementation. The team has now been invited to engage with industry leaders and NASA leadership in a two-day event culminating in February 2021. The event will be conducted online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
NASA's competition was a coding challenge that presented technical problems to high school students and sought their contributions to deep space exploration missions.
NASA's Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Team organises this yearly challenge, in which the participants are required to develop an app to visualise the lunar South Pole to assist in mission planning and exploration activities.
Utilising the lunar South Pole terrain data, the teams were expected to create a visualisation that displays essential information for navigation and communication, both height and slope variations on the lunar surface to help better aid in route planning and showcase elevation and azimuth angle perspective.
Teams were also expected to utilise pathfinding to plot the best path between a landing site and a destination site and identify ten communication link checkpoints for communication with Earth.
The team added several features to the app that made it engaging and useful for real-life usage. The features included a mini-map to help the astronaut see their position from an orthographic view which helps gauge progress along the path between the landing site and destination, an option for the astronaut to toggle between first- and third-person perspective, and other such features.
By participating in the challenge, the six-member team developed an app using the game engine Unity and programmed it in C#. The students took part in the Artemis Generation endeavours to land astronauts, including the first woman and the next man, on the Moon by 2024.